There are many reasons to keep an updated and complete inventory of your home or office. One reason is for easier insurance claims in cases of disaster, burglary, lost or other damages. This article will give you some tips for effectively creating and keeping such inventory.
The first two steps for creating your inventory are to decide on a method of cataloging your items and to create a list of the items to document. For example you can choose to catalog your items by where they are placed (e.g. by room) or by their type (electrical appliances, paintings, books and more). Choose the system that works best for you. The next step is to create a list of items that you would like to document. The simplest way to do this is by using a piece of paper and a pen. Go over all the items and write down which ones you intend to document. Later on when you take the digital photos make sure to cross out the items as you photograph them.
There are some simple suggestions that you can follow in order to create a better catalog:
Follow good digital photography rules: Inventory digital photos are like any other photos and you should follow the basic photography rules of good lighting, composition and camera settings.
Use the right background: Make sure that you stage the right background for each item. You would want to stage a background that is in contrast with the item. Also make sure that the background is a matte color and that it does not reflect light. For example when taking a photo of a black computer mouse and keyboard use a white or light gray background.
If possible leave items in their original place: It is better to take a good digital photo of an item without moving it from its original place. Sometimes this will not be possible in such cases take one digital photo of where the items is usually placed even if this photo is not very good and then move the item to take some good digital photos.
Take digital photos that prove you own the item: For each item take at least one digital photo that proves that this is indeed an item that you own. For example make sure that your living room is in the photo when taking a digital photo of your TV. Alternatively you can take photos of either you or someone you know with the item.
Take close up digital photos of important details: Take as many digital photos as needed that show specific details of the item that are important to assess its value, to replace it or to convey its importance. For example take close up digital photos of the sticker detailing the model number and brand or take close up digital photos of a signature and copy numbering on an expensive painting.
Use known objects to convey items size: If capturing an item size is important you can use a known size object in order to help future viewers visualize the item’s size. For example if you are taking digital photos of an expensive Persian rug you can have someone lie down on the rug or place a measurement meter on it
Use supportive material: When creating an inventory it is better to collect more information than less. If you have supportive documents such as receipts, warranty cards or work orders you can scan them into digital files and save them along with your digital photos. Make sure to name the files in a way that is easy to associate with the corresponding digital photos.
Backup the photos and put them in a safe place: This is probably the most important advice. An inventory is useless if you can not use it at time of need. Make sure that you back up the digital photos (for example on a DVD) and put them in a safe place (usually your home is not a safe place in that regard put it at a friend or family house). You can make more than one copy to put in multiple places. Another solution is to use one of the many online file archive services
Keep your inventory fresh: Every now and then you will buy a new item or retire an old one. Make sure to take digital photos of the new items and update your inventory.
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